HIV and Older Adults
April 17, 2017
Does HIV Affect Older Adults?
Yes, anyone -- including older adults -- can get HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% of all Americans living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV infection in 2013 were 55 years of age and older.
The population of older adults living with HIV is increasing for the following reasons:
For these reasons, the population of people living with HIV will increasingly include adults over 60.
Are the Risk Factors for HIV the Same for Older adults?
Many risk factors for HIV are the same for adults of any age. But like many younger people, older adults may not be aware of their HIV risk factors. HIV is most commonly spread by:
Some age-related factors also put older adults at risk for HIV infection. For example, older adults who begin dating again after a divorce or the death of a partner may not use condoms if they are unaware of the risk of HIV.
Age-related thinning and dryness of the vagina may increase the risk of HIV infection in older women. In addition, women who are no longer concerned about pregnancy may not use a female condom or ask their partners to use a male condom during sex.
Talk to your health care provider about your risk of HIV infection and ways to reduce your risk.
Should Older Adults Get Tested for HIV?
CDC recommends that everyone 13 to 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once and that people at high risk of infection get tested more often. Your health care provider may recommend HIV testing if you are over 64 and at risk for HIV infection.
For several reasons, older people are less likely to get tested for HIV:
For these reasons, HIV is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage in many older adults. When diagnosed late, HIV is more likely to advance to AIDS.
Ask your health care provider whether HIV testing is right for you. Use these questions from healthfinder.gov to start the conversation: HIV Testing: Questions for the doctor.
Is HIV Treatment the Same for Older Adults?
Treatment with HIV medicines is recommended for everyone with HIV, and HIV treatment recommendations are the same for older and younger adults. However, age-related factors can complicate HIV treatment in older adults.
Despite these age-related factors, some studies have shown that older adults are more adherent to their HIV medicine regimens -- meaning they take their HIV medicines every day and exactly as prescribed -- than younger adults.
Where Can I Find More Information About HIV and Aging?
Click on the links below to find more information about HIV and aging. This fact sheet is based on information from these sources:
From the Department of Health and Human Services:
From the National Institute on Aging:
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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